Labour Pains 3

An interactive history of 'Labour pains' from the Labour Party archives

The Foundation of the Parliamentary Labour Party

29 Labour Representation Committee (LRC) members were elected at the 1906 general election and they founded the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Ramsay MacDonald becomes Prime Minister

Labour and the Liberals form a coalition government, after the 1924 general election results in no overall majority. Ramsay MacDonald becomes Labour's first Prime Minister.

Collapse of the MacDonald Government

Following cabinet deadlock over measures to tackle Britain's spiralling economic problems, the Labour government resigns. MacDonald establishes the National Government, and the Labour Party becomes the opposition.

The ILP votes to leave the Labour Party

After Labour's disastrous election performance in late 1931, a special conference of the Independent Labour Party votes to disaffiliate from the Parliamentary Labour Party, by 241 votes to 142. The already depleted Labour Party lose the support of the ILP's remaining five MPs.

The Socialist League holds inaugural meeting

ILP members opposed to disaffiliation from the Labour Party, along with leading socialists, form The Socialist League. The SL aims to formulate socialist policies while maintaining party unity. GDH Cole is a strong influence on the new organisation, helping to form SL policy.

Clement Attlee elected Labour Party leader

When George Lansbury resigns, Clement Attlee is elected as interim leader. Attlee oversees Labour's partial recovery in November's general election and is elected as the permanent leader on November 25th.

The 'Unity Campaign' and Tribune launched

Following the failed attempts of the United Front, members of the ILP, the Socialist League and the Communist Party are signatories for a new manifesto designed to revitalise Labour politics. In response, the Labour Party disaffiliates the Socialist League from its organisation. Tribune weekly magazine is launched to support the campaign and soon becomes an influential publication.

The Socialist League dissolves

In response to Labour Party expulsion, the executive of the Socialist League unanimously votes to dissolve the organisation, to allow supporters to continue campaigning within the Labour Party.

Sir Stafford Cripps expelled from Labour Party

The Labour Party's National Executive Committee votes to expel Cripps from the Party, after he refuses to withdraw a popular front memorandum against fascism.

Churchill appoints Cripps as Ambassador to the Soviet Union

As part of his wartime coalition government, Winston Churchill appoints Cripps as ambassador to the Soviet Union. Still exiled from the Labour Party, Cripps plays a key role in establishing Britain's alliance with the Soviet Union.

Labour win the 1945 General Election

Labour become the first ruling party of post-war Britain. Clement Attlee appoints Ernest Bevin, former Minister of Labour, as Foreign Secretary. Bevin plays a crucial role in establishing close ties with the United States during the early years of the Cold War.

Members of 'Keep Left' publish pamphlet in the New Statesman

Supported by a campaign group of Labour MPs, chaired by Harold Wilson, Richard Crossman, Michael Foot and Ian Mikardo write in rejection of Britain's foreign policy. The publication, instead, promotes a close relationship with Europe, so as to establish a 'third force' in International Relations. 'Keep Left' provides an important platform for Labour's dissenting left during the Attlee years.

The Labour Government launches the NHS

The Labour Government deliver their 1945 manifesto pledge, inspired by the 1942 Beveridge Report, to provide a publicly funded health care system, free at the point of use.

Labour lose the 1951 General Election

An ageing government, that had already lost Ernest Bevin earlier that year, comes under pressure for its austerity budget in April. Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson both resign from their posts, in rejection of the cuts. Despite winning more votes than their Conservative opponents, Labour lose their electoral majority and return to opposition.

The Parliamentary Labour Party withdraw the party whip from Bevan

By 141 votes to 113, the PLP vote to withdraw the whip from Bevan, after he led a revolt of 62 MPs in abstaining from a crucial Commons vote on nuclear weapons. A number of Bevan's 'Keep Left' allies denounce his actions against the party leadership, signalling a split in the left wing of the party. However, partly due to his popularity, Bevan is reinstated in April.

Hugh Gaitskell is elected Labour leader

Following the retirement of Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskell beats Aneurin Bevan and Herbert Morrison in the party leadership contest. His time as leader is characterised by division between his supporters, 'Gaitskellites' and Bevan's supporters, 'Bevanites', of the party's left.

Labour's Youth Commission is established

Labour's Youth Commission is established to look at the concerns of young people in Britain, from school leaving age until marriage. In September, the Commission's report, 'The Younger Generation', recommends increasing the school leaving age, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, providing sex education and providing financial and training assistance to young people. The response inside the Labour party was mixed and only a limited number of recommendations were included in the party's 1959 manifesto.

Annual Party Conference carries vote for Unilateral Disarmament

At the party's national conference in Scarborough, the National Executive Committee's (NEC) resolution for support of NATO's use of nuclear weapons is defeated by 300,000 votes. Instead, the Transport and General Workers Union is successful in its motion to commit the Labour Party to unilateral nuclear disarmament. The resolution is passed by 43,000 votes.

Wilson challenges Gaitskell for the Party Leadership

Following a number of embarrassing defeats for Gaitskell, Harold Wilson controversially challenges his re-election as leader, ahead of the new parliamentary session. Wilson is unsuccessful but returns to the front bench.

Wilson is elected Labour Party Leader

Following Hugh Gaitskell's death in January, Harold Wilson is elected as leader of the party, defeating George Brown and Jim Callaghan. Despite his controversial failed attempt in 1960, Wilson is perceived by many to be a unifying candidate.

Labour win the 1964 General Election

Labour win a narrow majority of four seats in the House of Commons, ending 13 years of Conservative rule. This narrow majority would prove to be unworkable, due to backbench dissent. As a result, following a snap election, Labour cement power in 1966, increasing their majority to 96.

May Day Manifesto Campaign Launch

The 'May Day Manifesto' is released, supported and edited by members of the 'New Left', highlighting the failures of the 1964 Labour government. A symbol of left-wing discontent, the manifesto argues that Wilson's government has missed the opportunity to make necessary radical changes to British society.

Publication of 'In Place of Strife'

In an attempt to reduce the number of strikes, the government publish a White Paper, 'In Place of Strife', recommending a change to trade union law, including harsher punishment for 'unofficial' strikes and compulsory ballots. Predominantly viewed as an attack on the unions, the paper receives significant criticism from some inside the party and the unions. Its proposals are eventually withdrawn, signalling a defeat for the Wilson government.

Shock defeat for Labour in 1970 General Election

As the economy begins to show signs of improvement and Labour lead in the opinion polls, Harold Wilson calls a general election. To the surprise of most commentators, the Conservative Party, under Edward Heath, claim a majority of 31 seats. This was the first general election where 18 year olds could vote.

Launch of The Manifesto Group

In response to increasingly left-wing policies and the election of Ian Mikardo as chairman of the PLP, a group of Labour MPs form the Manifesto Group. Led by Dick Mabon and counting Denis Healey, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins in its number, the Manifesto Group rejects current policy and seeks to re-establish the right-wing of the party.

Harold Wilson announces resignation

Just before his 60th birthday, Harold Wilson announces his intention to resign as Prime Minister. Michael Foot, Jim Callaghan, Roy Jenkins, Tony Benn, Denis Healey and Anthony Crosland, all stand to replace him. Callaghan, the favourite, defeats Foot in the third round of voting to become the new Prime Minister.

Labour win General Election after February's hung parliament

Following the second general election of the year, Labour claim a narrow Commons majority, after ruling for 8 months as a minority government. The negotiations to end the miners' strike are pivotal in cementing public support for Labour.

Labour lose election as Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister

After a period of industrial turmoil, known as the 'Winter of Discontent', Labour lose the 1979 general election, as the Conservatives claim a 44 seat majority.

Michael Foot elected Labour leader

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) is established

Following their statement in January 1981, four senior Labour politicians establish a new political party, the SDP.

Neil Kinnock elected Labour leader

Following the resignation of Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock is elected as party leader.

Kinnock denounces Militant at Party Conference

Disturbed by the Militant campaign movement's increasing influence within the Labour Party, Neil Kinnock launches an attack on the left-wing group during the 1985 party conference. Eric Heffer, member of the NEC, leaves the platform in disgust at Kinnock's stance.

Labour lose fourth consecutive election

Tony Blair becomes Labour leader

Following the death of John Smith, Tony Blair is elected leader of the Labour Party.

Clause IV of the Labour constitution revised

The Labour Party abandon their commitment to public ownership, during a special party conference.

Labour claim landslide victory

Blair resigns and Gordon Brown becomes Labour leader

Demo of Archival Entry

This is a test post, to see how a bit of archival blurb and a photo might appear on the timeline. A couple of sentences will be available in preview.

Launch
Copy this timeline Login to copy this timeline 3d

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you. Please send questions or feedback to the below email addresses.

Before contacting us, you may wish to visit our FAQs page which has lots of useful info on Tiki-Toki.

We can be contacted by email at: hello@tiki-toki.com.

You can also follow us on twitter at twitter.com/tiki_toki.

If you are having any problems with Tiki-Toki, please contact us as at: help@tiki-toki.com

Close

Edit this timeline

Enter your name and the secret word given to you by the timeline's owner.

3-40 true Name must be at least three characters
3-40 true You need a secret word to edit this timeline

Checking details

Please check details and try again

Go
Close